I recently spoke with someone who pipped my interest in a concept, mothers who work. It seems there is always someone with an opinion on this subject. However, it’s not something that is discussed much in the audio engineering world. There simply aren’t many of us.
I have two children under ten, I graduated college with a bachelors and I’ve been working as a freelancing audio engineer for over eight years. With this experience, I can look on the subject of motherhood in this industry in a couple different ways.
One thing I hear from folks who have children and are not in the industry is; “how do you do it?” I like to respond to this question, “How do nurses and ER doctors function and have kids?”
I was also a single mother for five years of my audio career. Can you have kids and be in this industry? Absolutely. Can you be single and have kids in this industry? Absolutely.
I hear folks say, aren’t you away from home too much? There is a yes and no answer here. This can vary in how you feel as a parent and how you’ve conditioned your kids to function. I grew up respecting that my father had to work, I respected that this was his duty.
My children also need to understand my duty to work and in turn, theirs. If I have a week off work, I can’t just keep my kids home from school. It’s their duty to go to school. It’s my responsibility to tell them to go. Just as it’s a child’s responsibility to grow with an understanding and respect that you are not “leaving” them.
Will you miss out on some things? Yes. You may make choices that keep your work closer to home, you may give up touring or travel possibilities.
You may forego the after party once the gig is done because you have to get your son to football practice in the morning. There is no magic wand that will allow you to fit everything in.
Recently I gave advice to a parent who was looking for support that if they couldn’t find support within our industry then they should try to find it outside of it. This business tends to set a mindset that we are rare and so unique, a regular person couldn’t relate to us. I disagree, there are working parents in all sorts of fields who work long hours and are gone frequently (IT, Medical, PR, Service Industry, etc.).
Once you have children you plan, you think through the day, the week, the year. You prioritize and you think through as many “what ifs” as you can.
And when you need to, you ask for help.
Another colleague of mine recently commented, “young people in the music business aren’t planning to have kids.” Their interpretation of that fact was that in today’s world, you can’t have kids and be motivated, career-oriented, and successful in audio engineering.
Statistically more and more young professionals are waiting to have children. This isn’t only our industry.
This is throughout our society. A parent’s life in this industry may follow a different curve than a single person. But, as is said, “a gig is a gig.” If you’re spending too much time worrying what you don’t have or do as a parent, you won’t be as successful as a parent or an audio engineer. We are all unique, but as a parent, you bring an edge that no one person can. You learn how to be professional on a show and still continue to juggle all the balls behind the scenes.
When the show is over and a happy attendee comes up to you, “Wow! How did you get all those complex things to happen?!” You will stand there and think of all the crazy complex interpersonal and technical things you just made happen. Then you’ll just say, “It’s my job, I just did it. I made it happen with hard work.” That is exactly how motherhood is.
Article by SoundGirl: Aubrey Caudill